Lemon bars are a dessert that has been widely loved since the early 60s when the recipe was first published. However, obtaining yellow, firm and creamy custard with a fresh lemon taste is not always straightforward. So, how to fix runny lemon bars?
To fix runny lemon bars, you can either put them in a fridge or throw them back in the oven. Be sure to keep the dessert cold as long as possible if you choose to refrigerate it. If you would rather fix runny lemon bars by putting them back in the oven, keep them at the same temperature as the first time (350 °F) until they have set.
In this article, I will explain how to transform your runny lemon bars into small bites of sunshine, what makes them watery, how to detect if they are undercooked, and how to avoid making mistakes that can ruin this lovely dessert.
How to Fix Watery Lemon Bars?
Underbaking is the most common reason why lemon bars turn out watery. To make the perfect lemon bars, you will have to preheat the oven to 350 °F and bake them for 30 to 35 minutes after you pour the custard over the shortbread crust.
In case you are worried that the custard is looking too watery while mixing it up, add another egg yolk or a tablespoon of flour to make it thicker. It will be runny until it bakes properly. However, if the custard is runny after baking, you will have two options — return it to the oven or refrigerate it.
Return them to the Oven
If you return the lemon bars to the oven, make sure to bake them at 350 °F. Rotate the pan every 5 minutes to ensure each side is baked evenly. Leave lemon bars in the oven until the custard sets.
When you get the pan out of the oven, the custard should still be a bit jiggly in the middle. Do not worry about that. Once it cools off, it will become firm.
If this is your first time making lemon bars and you wish to avoid overbaking them, refrigerate them. Once you take them out of the oven, let them cool down for an hour at room temperature, and place them in a fridge. Leave them sitting in the fridge until the custard firms up as much as possible.
Avoid cutting the bars before refrigerating them. If the custard is watery, it will spread all around the crust and lose its form.
Why Are Your Lemon Bars Runny?
Lemon bars may become runny if you don’t follow the recipe regarding baking time and temperature. Preheating the oven to the exact baking temperature is of the utmost importance. If it is lower than it should be, you will end up with runny lemon bars.
It usually takes around 30-35 minutes to make custard both firm and delightfully jiggly. Every oven works a bit differently, so I recommend you check the lemon bars while baking.
The custard should set in and get a bright yellow crust. It will be a bit wobbly in the middle, so you should refrigerate this dessert for an hour at least.
To shorten the baking time, cook the custard in a larger saucepan. This way, egg yolks will thicken and make the entire mixture more creamy.
To apply this method, you will have to mix up lemon zest, sugar, a pinch of salt, eggs, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Cook this mixture for several minutes, stirring it the entire time, then remove it from the fire and add butter. While other recipes for lemon bars include adding flour to the custard, it will not be necessary here.
Also, lemon bars can be runny or too gooey if you forget to add ingredients from the recipe like flour, the correct number of egg yolks, or butter. These are the ingredients that affect the thickness and shape of the custard.
Are Runny Lemon Bars Undercooked?
Yes, lemon bars can be runny because they are undercooked. The only way to avoid that is to follow the exact instructions from the recipe.
If they still seem undercooked after that, follow these tips that worked for me. You can easily fix undercooked lemon bars by applying them and turning them into a dessert you, your family, and your friends will enjoy.